Conquering eagles and geese

I don’t want to take this site too far down the road of posting historical items that are interesting merely for being historical, but it’s worth mentioning a first that Boston can claim. In 1860, from a balloon tethered on the Boston Common, James Wallace Black took the first aerial photograph of a city in the U.S.

Boston, as the Eagle and Wild Goose See It

It faces east toward the harbor. That’s the Old South Meeting House on the left, with Washington Street running toward the lower right and Milk Street toward the top. The photograph’s title, Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It, comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes. James Wallace Black is known for his photographs of the aftermath of Boston’s 1872 fire, which I believe destroyed a good portion of what is visible in this aerial.

The image here is from the Boston Public Library’s Flickr set of Black’s photos.  The Boston Globe provides an approximation of what the same view would look like today.

While we’re at it, BPL posted a treasure trove of historical aerial photos to Flickr recently, mostly dating to the 1920s. They’re pretty fascinating, though it’s a bit depressing to see the neighborhoods that were razed in later decades.

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3 Responses to Conquering eagles and geese

  1. Pingback: Conquering eagles and geese | Bostonography | Chic + Geek

  2. Joel says:

    That is an amazingly cool photo. I love it. Thank you for posting it.

  3. Pingback: Historical Boston, from Above « strategyandpizza

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